An episode of 1950s sitcom "The Trouble with Father". One of the first single-camera sitcoms without a laugh-track....but this episode nevertheless features a guy in a gorilla suit. The Willie Best character is worryingly stereotypical, but he is shown as being a friend of the family, which must count for something! Originally telecast 12 June 1953 (note: missing closing credits)
September 4, 2014
The Stu Erwin Show
What’s in a name? This 1950 situational comedy was known by numerous titles: “The Stu Erwin Show,” “Life with the Erwins” and “The New Stu Erwin Show”.
The Stu Erwin Show aired on October 21, 1950 by ABC, it did not have a laugh track, and was one of television’s first filmed situational comedies. The 1950s were years of the rising popularity of the sitcom and The Stu Erwin Show was based on a bumbling father who was not the smartest member of the household. The Erwins lived in a small town in the United States, Stu was the principal of a high school that would find himself in curious and uncomfortable situations, while his wife was the patient one who kept herself busy with the family and many “ladies groups”. The Erwins had two children, Joyce and Jackie, the former was a boy-crazy high school, while the latter was seen as a smart-mouthed tomboy who had many and most of the comedic lines throughout the show. Another character of the show was the handyman named Willie, he still was seen as the “Black servant stereotype: slow-moving, bugged-out eyes, and mumbling” and of course the neighbors Harry and Adele Johnson that served as the Erwin’s friends and enemies.
ABC was not the dominant network during this time, Hal Roach Jr. and Roland D. Reed were the top producers with their production companies that were running the program. During its original network run on ABC, it was sponsored by General Mills (1950–54) and Liggett & Myers (1954–55). It was filmed at Hal Roach Studios in Culver City, California and lasted from October 21, 1950 until April 13, 1955. The first year it aired on Saturday nights at 7:30PM against “One Man's Family”, the second season it aired on Fridays at 8:30 PM against “Man Against Crime”, the following two seasons it returned to 7:30 PM, and the final season was moved to Wednesdays at 8:30PM after “Disneyland”.
The sitcom was a single-camera setup with a 26-minute runtime and it ran for 5 seasons with a total of 128 episodes. According to TV.com, “The series aired new episodes in a bizarre fashion designed to get maximum usage out of the reruns,” the first season had 52 episodes, the following only aired 26 new shows but then aired 26 weeks of reruns. TV.com goes on to report that “Beginning in the fall of 1952, every third episode was a rerun from previous seasons” July 1953 ABC aired 65 weeks of reruns. The last season ended with the normal 26 episodes, along with the addition of the laugh track.